For a time, my thought, after reading and considering this lesson for several days, was to reject altogether the premise of the committee. Initially it seemed to me to be an exercise in blaming – an excuse that could be used, quite reliably, to underpin any reason for not “doing the work”.
I enjoy questioning, turning norms and beliefs around and examining them from different perspectives. I ask myself…is the idea of voices that echo across time, that influence how we live our lives (both negatively and positively) simply a psychological construct (all due respect to Jung and the collective unconscious) that we grasp all too firmly, use to our advantage and make into a crutch for our own failings? Or is it in fact a valid, universal, truth that we do indeed need to be aware of, to continually wrestle with, so that we can progress as individuals and develop the inner strength to become that “guest house” that is grateful for the unexpected visitor that Rumi writes about? A bit of both, perhaps?
So, here’s the thing – all pondering aside – the Committee does exist. I recognized it the moment I started to read the exercise, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it. I don’t want to “blame” my teacher, my family member, another artist, or an unthinking acquaintance for what are my challenges and shortcomings. It gives them a presence and possibly even control over the volume nob. Nevertheless, the voices are there. So the question is, how much power do they have…or do I give them? They’re only obstacles if I allow them to be such. Rethinking, reframing, embracing.
The analogy of “fighting one’s way out of a paper bag” comes to mind, yet again (previous post). I’m pretty sure I can do this. Poke a hole in that paper, and rip! And yet, if it were that easy…?
On the Committee:
The family member that said, after I had prepared a particularly extensive and challenging analysis of the symbolism in a work art (an assignment by the way – not something I would do “for fun”), “Perhaps it’s symbolic of nothing. Perhaps it has no meaning. Perhaps it just is.” Ironically, it’s likely that nothing was really meant by the comment, but it has caused me ever since to question meaning in my own work, and often to avoid deeper symbolism in developing initial concepts. I know this is a strong voice, because have never been able to dismiss it. But rethinking it, from Rumi’s perspective, I’ll welcome the voice next time, put out a luscious tray of dates to share, and dig in.
Mostly, the others on the committee are artists (in any medium – visual arts, music, etc) whose work I admire, and in some cases, whose acceptance or respect I would like to have. They certainly don’t know they’re on the committee. Sometimes it’s comparison, rather than judgement, that is the imagined problem. It’s usually what fuels my doubts. It’s an amorphous, sort of ghostly crowd up in the balcony. I really should just send them a friendly wave from the stage.
And finally, I need to put myself on the committee – for all the times I received encouragement and guidance, but wouldn’t acknowledge it or believe that it applied to me. If I had done that more often, I would probably hear different voices now.
I came back to this after an hour or so. I’m still okay with it, I think it’s pretty close to how I feel about the subject of committees and voices, and obstacles. On the other hand, it all could be rubbish. It’s hard to articulate, but good to consider from time to time. I made some notes while listening to Jane’s video for this lesson. She asked, “Who is it that we trust?” I think the answer, for today anyway, has to be, “me”. And that trust needs to be based on being open, confident, ready for what’s next. I may not be able to dismiss the committee altogether, so I’ll give some of the members the occasional nod of acknowledgement, and in a few cases, a wink of understanding and appreciation. That should quiet them down.